Your Reminder That There Is A Brilliant 'A League of Their Own' Idea Just Sitting Out There
Gabrielle Union just reminded us of a pretty damn good idea.
The 47-year-old actress dug up a gem off director Matthew A. Cherry’s feed. The writer of the Academy-Award winning “Hair Love” tweeted out a slice of the film “A League of Their Own” back in 2018.
The moment in question comes when Dottie Hinson, played by Geena Davis, goes out to retrieve a foul ball.
That’s when an unnamed Black woman comes out of the segregated section of the stadium to toss the ball in. She overthrows Dottie and hits Ellen Sue right in the numbers, hurting her hand.
It was one of the best moments in the film. The worst would be the nonsensical ending when Dottie lets a championship slide through her fingers just to satisfy her selfish little sister. But I digress.
Cherry’s initial tweet garnered over 82,000 likes. Union’s recent retweet had the affection of nearly 140,000 Twitter followers.
Basically, people still love the idea of a spinoff that would center on three baseball pioneers: Toni Stone, Mami "Peanut" Johnson and Connie Morgan.
Those three names represent the three Black women who played professionally in the Negro Leagues.
The professional league that housed some of the best talent to ever play the sport recently enjoyed its centennial. So, it’s apropos that Union would take the time to hat tip a great idea.
Stone passed away in 1996, a pioneer in the sport as the very first woman to get regular playing time at the professional level.
Playing from 1949 to 1954, she would feature on the San Francisco Sea Lions and New Orleans Creoles before she was signed by the Indianapolis Clowns where she played second base. In that 1953 season, she made it into 50 games and batted .243.
Baseball Reference quotes Stone who recalls staring down one of the greatest pitchers of all time, Satchel Paige.
“He was so good that he'd ask batters where they wanted it, just so they'd have a chance,” Stone said. “He'd ask, ‘You want it high? You want it low? You want it right in the middle? Just say.’ People still couldn't get a hit against him. So I get up there and he says, ‘Hey T., how do you like it?’ And I said, ‘It doesn't matter, just don't hurt me.’ When he wound up—he had these big old feet—all you could see was his shoe. I stood there shaking, but I got a hit. Right out over second base."
As you might expect, that hit ranked pretty high on her list of accomplishments as she said it was the, "happiest moment in my life."
Mami "Peanut" Johnson
But imagine if the character in “A League of Their Own” with the strong arm and the head nod of confidence is Mami Johnson, the first woman pitcher to take the mound in the Negro Leagues.
Johnson actually explains in the above video the close tie the unnamed character in the movie shares with her experience in real life.
Johnson was signed by the Clowns just as Stone was leaving the game and amassed a 33-8 record.
So why peanut for a name? According to Baseball Reference, Hank Baylis came to the plate against her and had a question, "What makes you think you can strike a batter out? Why, you aren't any larger than a peanut!"
She ended up striking out Baylis and earning a new nickname.
The Undefeated states Johnson had quite the mentor as well. No less than Satchel Paige took her under his wing and taught her what is considered to be an “unhittable curveball.”
Morgan is often disregarded as the third woman to play in the Negro Leagues rather than given credit as one of the most versatile of those three.
She won the confidence of a manager who had a sterling career as a ballplayer. Joe Swide of Ebbets.com explains that Hall of Famer Oscar Charleston was the one who scouted Morgan.
“According to Charleston, Morgan was one of the most sensational female ballplayers he had ever seen, and her throwing ability rivaled that of top Major Leaguers,” Swide writes.
She came to the Clowns just as Stone was leaving, replacing the first female to play in the league at second base.
Morgan, who batted .368 with the all-girls North Philadelphia Honey Drippers prior to playing for the Clowns, batted “around .300” while playing in the Negro Leagues.
A movie, a mini-series, a new documentary, anything: These stories need to be told as three ballplayers excelled at their sport despite having to battle racism and misogyny.
All three made their way through the Indianapolis Clowns system, building relationships with such stars as Paige and Charleston.
Yeah, if someone could jump on this that would be great.